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The First Time

Due to going through a depressive episode now, I've been thinking about the first time I ever experienced chemical depression. I remember it very clearly, because it was so unlike anything else I'd ever felt. I was seventeen. I had just survived several terrible years at a school where other students told me daily how ugly, stupid, and worthless I was, but that didn't make me depressed. It made me feel bad, but that unhappiness had a clear cause and a foreseeable end. At seventeen, I had a group of good friends, a boyfriend, and a bunch of projects I was excited about. Things were better than they'd been in years, but every day I seemed to care a little less. Also, it seemed that nobody would help me. The sum total of my boyfriend's advice was "I think you need to get your shit together," but he lived three hours away and was never a big help with anything. When I tried to talk to my friends, they told me to talk to my other friends. Sometimes they said this while physically backing away from me, as if depression were catching (and I guess it may be, especially among teenagers). They still liked me all right at other times, but the moment I tried to tell them how bad I felt for no discernible reason and how scary that was, the conversation was over. I can't blame them; they were just kids trying to figure out their own scary new feelings. My mother sent me to a psychologist who said she would hospitalize me if I kept doing self-destructive things, so I stopped telling her about the self-destructive things I did, but I didn't stop doing them.

Eventually I left school, got more serious about writing, got a better boyfriend, and pulled myself out of that first episode, but depression is something I've struggled with ever since. Sometimes medication helps, sometimes not. Testosterone has helped more than any psychiatric drug, but it is far from a magic bullet, especially when situational factors (poverty, my mom's illness, the hype surrounding the tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina) intrude. Right now I should be lighting candles for my clients. Over the past eighteen months, I've built my candle-and-root business out of nothing into a going concern. I'm proud of it and don't want to screw it up, and I don't want to disappoint my clients. But the principle behind setting lights is sympathetic magic, and I worry that depression will contaminate my candles. If I can't get rid of the depression, I need to learn to build barriers to keep that from happening.

I can't see myself starting to keep a regular blog again, at least not at the moment, but I wanted to put this somewhere I could keep track of it. Mostly I like the ephemerality of Facebook, but once in a great while I still want to point to something and say, "Here's what I think about this."

Comments

( 16 comments — Leave a comment )
georgiamagnolia
Aug. 27th, 2015 09:31 am (UTC)
wow, I think I was ten the first time I felt what I eventually understood to be depression, though at the time I just wanted to be dead and didn't fully understand why. Your entry is making me think about the history and expressions that illness has caused in my life and that is full of contemplative thoughts I might need to sift through, so thanks for that. I think. When I am doing energy work (i.e magical work) for others and I feel my own depression or something might interfere I put a mental circle of salt around my own emotions, I am not sure what form that will take for you or if that sort of visualization is helpful. We heal ourselves when we do work to heal others or the world. Brightest Blessings to you, Billy.
suzycat
Aug. 27th, 2015 11:12 am (UTC)
I don't know how one can shield off depression in a candle-lighting context, but I can imagine how worrying it would be, NOT because it necessarily WILL affect the candles but because you will be feeling all this personal pressure to STOP BEING DEPRESSED and if you are anything like me, that feeling just makes it worse.

If there is some person you know, or maybe reading this blog or on FB, who is au fait with sympathetic magic, they might know some sort of technique to use that, by creating some kind of shield, could help reduce that part of the worry, and I am sure that will help enormously.

My depression/anxiety is minor, but not minor enough to ignore completely. You have my sympathies.
imariistarre
Aug. 27th, 2015 02:47 pm (UTC)
Pull from the Spirit:
Sounds easy, but I know it's not. It will be a challenge.

Your body is wracked by chemical imbalances. Yes, situational depression worsens this condition but, deep down it's still just your body that is stuck in this muck.

There is an elevated part of you, a God-Self if you will. He exists on another plane, but you can access him.

New Agers call this part of us the 'higher self'. Wiccans will refer to a ritual called 'drawing down the sun'. Left Hand Pathers believe that everyone has the potential to ascend to the divine given enough tempering and spiritual growth.

I'm very sorry, I don't know the voodoo/hoodoo equivalent of this. But I'm certain it must exist.

Meditate until you find him. Then allow him to bypass your body. Pull directly from this elevated, spiritual being that is you, but higher. Trust Up.

If you're like me and you have trouble quieting your mind into a meditative state, there are workarounds.

I use knitting. It's simultaneously left brain/right brain engaging, but it's also meditative and productive. Depressive brain chemistry can actually find that to be a rather euphoric mix.

I also use writing. I've been in recovery for emotional trauma for a little over a year now. I didn't get better for a long time because I was alone, and I knew I needed help. However, trust issues prevented me from reaching out. So, I wrote him instead. I used my vivid imagination and my way with words to write the person I needed into my life. He still only exists in my mind, but his presence is felt.

Write a story where you are in this elevated place. Create your own god realm and build yourself a temple there. Write about watching your earth self endure the pain. Write about reaching out, descending, melding with him.

--

I'm trying to think of an inspirational way to close this, but I'm coming up blank.

Just know that I've been where you are, and I'm still working through it, I'm just sharing what has worked for me.

I hope it's been helpful.

~ImariiStarre

marlowe1
Aug. 27th, 2015 02:50 pm (UTC)
Yeah. I remember not getting depression and thinking that those with depression should just snap out of it - not in those words - which is ironic considering that my mom was diagnosed with bipolar disorder when I was a kid and then did absolutely nothing about it (unless collecting and increasing amount of crap and yelling at the neighborhood kids counts).

I think I went through a lot of "goddamn it, just get your shit together" attitudes simply because I grew up dancing around an undiagnosed bipolar mother and never quite got that it didn't have to be that way (or that it was not something that everyone was doing).

I think as far as candles go, one of the things about ritual is that it is ritual (whether its prayer or candle lighting or bowing at the right times) no matter what you are going through at the time - whether you are in a depressive episode or feeling pretty good or worried - the ritual remains the same and provides a constant among variables.
o_lucky_man
Aug. 27th, 2015 02:59 pm (UTC)
Hey Billy,

Shoot me an email sometime when you feel up to it--I'd love to hear from you

michaelspencer1111(at)aol.com

<3
xanadu_dreamer
Aug. 27th, 2015 03:30 pm (UTC)
I'll be thinking of you and hoping this passes soon. Depression is such a soul suck. It's a beast, and I hope you get through this soon -- though with the situation you're in and difficult things you're facing, it makes sense that you would feel the way you do.
padiwack
Aug. 27th, 2015 07:34 pm (UTC)

Very best wishes to you Doc!


I love the fact that I can share here what I can't on FB. Sometimes it helps!

buboniclou
Aug. 28th, 2015 01:59 am (UTC)
Glad to see you again. Depression is a real mofo.
bastardtongue
Aug. 28th, 2015 05:50 pm (UTC)
lighting a candle for you, billy
dmsherwood53
Aug. 29th, 2015 11:10 am (UTC)
Depression
I had Clinical depression for 3 years ;it ended
everville340
Aug. 31st, 2015 01:42 am (UTC)
Thank you for describing your experiences, especially the concern of situational factors possibly affecting the intentions of what you are doing. I can relate to this, although in a completely personal (not business) sense. Respectfully, I have found some focus of intention with Obsidian and some colors of Calcite, while Black Tourmaline has been a boon towards what I've learned to call or imagine my Bubble, or barrier.
Estabrook15
Oct. 14th, 2015 11:09 pm (UTC)
literature degree
Hi, I'm writing my dissertation on one of your books, if that helps
monkeeshyne
Dec. 10th, 2015 12:10 am (UTC)
craziness
Hi Poppy

So I was looking for a copy of one of your books (I read all of them up until your restaurant novels in high school in the late 90s--I am a huge fan), and I came across your livejournal. I haven't updated mine in almost 8 years. It's crazy how things change.

Anyway, I've also suffered severely from depression my entire life--mostly because I live in the Deep South, and my family are extremely against my being gay. Thus my life has been pretty crazy. I've constantly been running since about 2000. I've lived numerous times in LA, NYC, Chicago, etc. I've even been homeless and stayed on an Indian reservation. Anyway, I came back to Georgia when my best friend was murdered a few months ago and decided to go back to school. I was doing well for a while, although I re-developed an addiction to opiates. I'm currently spending almost $500/month on methadone treatment. Also, the only people here who want to be my friend are also meth addicts, so I've been doing that a lot recently.

I decided it was time to go to rehab, as I've completely fucked up school for the past couple weeks. My mom wants me to go somewhere Christian in hopes that I will become straight. I highly doubt this will happen, though.

Anyway, just know that you're not the only one (by any means) suffering due to the shit that comes along with being human. I personally think you are an absolutely amazing and gifted person, and my world would be a lot darker without you. I hope you find what you need.
Shawnti Therrien
Mar. 15th, 2016 06:49 pm (UTC)
nothing worth noting
I could tell you it will get better but that is up to you. I could say something witty, say you are inspiring, but what good will that do when you are in the third part of your life and all those things would reflect on a past that is both good and haunting.

Ground yourself. Go to high ground and root. Ignore all the noise and dig in because even here you can hear the earth whisper even on our darkest days. Go downstairs. Unbind your mirrors, the ghosts within won't hurt you any longer, and don't forget the salt. It's not going to get any better than the better you can make yourself and you know it.

Writers are selfish. I had hoped to find a thread, a communication because I am a mockery of what you were. I wanted to pick your brain and perhaps run the risk of inspiring you but... I know what ails you just as much as anyone else. Don't look to other people for help with this. It only makes it worse. You first, then others or you won't find the calm again. I wish that I could say something meaningful but everyone is full of wordy advise. Be well. Maybe someday I can be a selfish writer and talk to you about tea and dreams. Till then, don't forget that you are stronger than you believe. I am a complete stranger and know that to be true.

~Shawnti
Arsal Naqvi
Feb. 3rd, 2017 12:54 pm (UTC)
Comment
Have a good day
Mir Muhammad Alikhan (http://mirmak.net/biography/)
thebreej
Jun. 11th, 2017 02:09 pm (UTC)
Bit odd to contact you perhaps, my apologies beforehand, but I went to see Amanda Palmer in concert Friday evvening, and I suddenly got reminded of you.
May I ask how you are doing these days?
No idea if this will ever reach you, but it is worth a try.
( 16 comments — Leave a comment )

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